What’s sharp and spiny on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside and so smelly that it can clear out a college library for fear of a gas leak?
More than 500 people were evacuated from the library at the University of Canberra in Australia within minutes on Thursday when the smell of the Southeast Asian fruit wafted through the building, prompting concerns about a potentially dangerous chemical spilling into the air, staff members said in a Facebook post. But after firefighters searched the building and hazmat crews tested the air for contaminants, the source of the smell was located: a durian, which had been tossed in a trash bin near an air vent, staffers said.
“Fortunately the suspected gas leak turned out to be a part of a durian — the offending fruit has now been removed,” staffers said in an update.
Less than an hour after the ordeal, library staff members announced that it was safe to reenter the building, but noted that the smell was not gone.
“The lingering gas-like smell in the building is completely safe — someone left a durian fruit in one of our bins!” staffers wrote in a subsequent post.
It’s not the first time the fruit has sent unsuspecting students fleeing. The Washington Post reported last year that hundreds of people were evacuated from the library at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne — over similar fears of chemical gas. It was gas, but gas from a decaying durian, fire officials said.
The durian is native to Southeast Asia — Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Even so, certain places in Asia, such as Singapore, have banned it from some public spaces.
The smell has been described as gas, garbage, rotten eggs, a refrigerator that has not been cleaned out, or as food writer Richard Sterling once put it, “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock,” Smithsonian magazine reported.
But the taste of the football-sized fruit has many people divided — some unable to stomach it, others saying it “Tastes like heaven. Smells like hell!”
After Thursday’s evacuation, the University of Canberra library briefly changed its profile picture on Facebook to a sign showing a durian with a red slash through it — suggesting the fruit is not welcome.